Couponing is easier than you think! Here’s a quick-start guide.

New to couponing? It can definitely seem intimidating at first but there’s no need to fear! Linda wrote a helpful quick-start couponing guide to help us out!  Thanks, Linda! -Nicole

One fantastic way to keep your budget under control is to use coupons. If you want to get the most out of your couponing, you need to be organized so you can take advantage of every price-saving opportunity. Here are some useful tips to help you coordinate your efforts.

Where can you find couponsWhere can you find coupons?

Go directly to the source. If you have favorite brands the best place to look first is the manufacturer’s website. Check product labels for information. Sometimes the address is listed but, when it’s not, you can usually find it through an online search.

Collect newspapers. These days newspapers are full of coupon fliers. You could subscribe to every local newspaper to collect coupons. But why not just cut out the middleman? Those newspapers get their coupons from somewhere, and it’s usually one of a few sources. A couple of the most common coupon distributors are SmartSource and P&G. But I have found that RedPlum has the greatest variety and is the most user friendly.

Get them where you shop. If your favorite stores have websites, and most of them do, search their contents. Most stores will post their weekly ads online as well as printing them in the paper. Many will honor the prices without requiring you to even present a coupon.

Warning! Guard your personal information. If you’re going to be searching for coupons online, keep this in mind. Avoid using websites that require an email address before allowing you to download coupons. Often their main goal is collecting and selling your information, not helping you save money. Also take care with sites who want to download a document, such as an .fdf file, that will automatically print for you. These forms require you to give permission to make changes to your computer without allowing you to specify which changes they can make.

Use other online sources. There are also websites whose only purpose is to provide printable coupons to consumers. One useful site, for looking up deals based on the stores you’ll be visiting is retailmenot.com. Although they do request an email address, this is voluntary and you don’t have to provide it to use their site. They provide both printable coupons and links to savings on store websites. If you’re just looking for printable coupons, try coupons.com. They ask you to confirm your device, via a text message verification code, before printing. However, I didn’t receive any spam texts after verifying, so I am comfortable recommending them.

How can you increase the value of your coupons?

One benefit of free trade is that retailers compete for your business. Price matching is the way some choose to do this. They advertise that they will honor competitors’ sale prices, coupons, or both so that you will do more of your shopping with them instead.

Full matching. Some stores offer to match all of their competitors’ advertised prices. One national chain that does so is Walmart. You may also find stores in your area that advertise complete matching in the local market. Although not specifically addressing coupons, both Lowe’s and Home Depot advertise matching without listing any exceptions.

Partial matching. There are also stores that will match some prices but not others. Some stores, like Sears, offer price matching but their policy specifically excludes coupons. Fred Meyer will match pharmacy prices, but no other departments. There are also stores, such as Best Buy, that will match prices of only select competitors.

No matching. The following retailers do not offer price matching:

  • Costco
  • Kmart
  • Rite Aid
  • Target
  • Walgreens

What is the best way to organize your coupons?

To get the most out of couponing, you need to know what coupons you have, and when they can be used. There are several ways that you can manage them.

Getting organized. There are a number of ways you can store your coupons. If you want to file them based on item type, rather than specific product name, an expandable file wallet can be effective. Although they only provide a few category pockets, they are compact and easily portable. If you prefer to sort them more thoroughly, a small binder with see-through pocket inserts would serve you better. Although a little less compact, they allow a nearly unlimited number of categories because you can purchase multiple insert pages separately.

Staying organized. Once you decide how to file your coupons, it’s important to keep them in order, so you can find them easily when you need them. The simplest way to do so is to arrange each pocket of coupons with the soonest to expire in front and the last to expire, or those rare coupons without an expiration date, in back. That way you can go through them, before shopping, and throw away any that have expired. It can also be helpful, if you shop from a list, to note every item for which you have a coupon and remove them from storage as you add each item to your cart.

However you choose to organize your coupons, they won’t do you any good if you don’t have them when you need them. If you make it a habit to never leave the home without them, you will be prepared for any unplanned shopping stops. Being able to find them when you need them, and always having them on you, will help you get the most out of your couponing.

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